…with Age-Appropriate Summer Activities
As your team looks toward the 2013 FIRST LEGO League NATURE’S FURY Challenge, take advantage of the summer months to inspire your students on ways they can help people prepare, stay safe and rebuild when facing natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes.
Museums, unit studies, projects and experiments are but a few of the interactive options available to parents and coaches seeking inspiration for the upcoming challenge. Check out some of the activities below as you prepare your kids to solve real-world problems.
1. Visit a museum. Several museums worldwide feature natural disaster displays. If you live within driving distance of one of these exhibits, plan a day trip. Or consider incorporating a museum trip into your summer vacation.
- Natural History Museum of Utah – The traveling Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters exhibit explores the science and study of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions, along with stories of human responses. The Salt Lake City museum is open daily this summer.
- The Durham Museum – You don’t have to live in Utah to enjoy the Nature Unleashed exhibit. Residents of and visitors to Omaha, Neb., also can enjoy the traveling exhibit through Sept. 12. The museum is open every day except major holidays.
- Worcester Historical Museum – New England residents and visitors will enjoy this natural disaster exhibit dubbed Worcester 911, which chronicles the region’s catastrophes. Check the museum’s Facebook page, or call 508-753-8278 for hours and ticket prices.
- Museum of Science – While you’re in New England, be sure to go see Tornado Alley, an IMAX film showing at this Boston museum. This movie features former Storm Chasers star Sean Casey as he and other tornado researchers explore the birth of a tornado in the disaster-prone American plains.
2. Hear from an expert. Read blogs, view pictures, and listen to interviews from natural disaster experts. Also reach out locally to the experts in your own back yard.
- Follow storm chaser Warren Faidley. The extreme weather and natural disaster survival expert/storm chaser shares photos and a blog about his adventures. You can also follow his adventures on Facebook.
- Contact a natural disaster expert. Consider interviewing a research scientist or engineer who specializes in natural disasters. Check your local colleges and universities for local experts.
- Watch an interview with a meteorologist. Take a virtual field trip to Colorado to meet a TV meteorologist. The same page also features links to weather websites and activities for kids. Consider contacting a local TV or radio meteorologist to talk about weather-based natural disasters in your area.
3. Keep up with natural disasters as they happen. Track storms, volcanoes, tsunamis, landslides and earthquakes virtually as they happen.
- Chaser TV plots storms as they happen. Track storms live anywhere in the United States live.
- Monitor seismic events worldwide. The U.S. Geological Survey site shows earthquake activity worldwide. Sort activity by day or magnitude.
4. Learn how stuff works. Howstuffworks.com is a virtual treasure trove of information on just about everything, including physical science. Students could lose themselves in searches on this site alone for an entire summer.
- Understand the link between earthquakes and tsunamis. Research, recent articles and real-life video explain the science of tsunamis in relation to earthquakes. You will also come away with an extensive knowledge of the history of such disasters.
- Untwist the nature of tornadoes. Again, research, articles and videos – augmented with historical anecdotes – help explain the deadly and unpredictable nature of tornadoes. A link gives you an inside look at what it’s like in the eye of a tornado.
- Research the science behind hurricanes. If you want to learn about hurricanes, you won’t be disappointed. Page after page of facts and visuals provide the ultimate killer storm tutorial.
5. Do a project or unit study. The Internet is full of projects, experiments, activity sheets and unit studies about natural disasters. We break them down by age and subject below; however, with a little creativity, unit studies and activities can be adapted for a wider age range.
- K-6: Create a hurricane science project. Find instructions for a hurricane in a bottle or jumping-off points for further research.
- K-6: Find science and art projects about volcanoes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. Use common household items to study or simulate natural disasters.
- K-6: Research and create projects about earthquakes, lightning and forest fires. The page also contains a link to a flood experiment and another to natural disaster prevention and coping mechanisms.
- K-6: Learn all about floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanoes. This complete curriculum even includes activity times and learning goals, along with optional longer activities for those rainy summer days.
- K-6: Take an in-depth approach to disaster preparedness. Serious-minded parents and coaches may want to explore this curriculum, which includes an overview of mapping potential hazards and resources, community interviews and historical research, measuring wind speed, measuring flood depth, measuring earthquake waves, measuring barometric pressure, engineering earthquake- and cyclone-resistant houses, mangrove and wetland flood prevention, preventing hillside erosion, earthquake school hazard hunt, and more. Yes, more.
- K-12: Find earthquake and hurricane resources. This site contains multiple links for individual and classroom (think “team”) activities for children from kindergarten to 12th grade. (Yes, you can get your future FLL members involved too!)
- Grades 3-8: Try this severe weather and natural disasters activity. Vocabulary words, experiments, history and witness accounts help flush out this great multi-grade unit study.
- All ages: Pack a disaster preparedness kit. Though this site is geared for elementary-school kids, students of all ages would benefit from learning how to pack in preparation for a disaster. Consider making the packing session into a drill.
Enjoy your summer adventures, and your team’s NATURE’S FURY journey!